The signs of a functioning alcoholic

As a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the last few months have been challenging for us all. But for individuals suffering from addiction, it has been a particularly difficult time. Despite the pubs being closed for a long period of time, the last few months have seen a spike in the amount of alcohol consumed. This is for a variety of reasons, including stress, worry, boredom and lack of a daily routine, and this is just the general public. When you add battling an addiction in to this, the challenges intensify.

As the country is beginning to move through the phases to ease COVID-19 restrictions and re-open Ireland’s society and economy, the pubs re-opening may only add to the problems for these individuals. You may have noticed that your alcohol consumption or indeed a loved one has increased over the last few months, to the point where it is becoming a problem. Remember you don’t need to lose everything to be addicted. In this blog we will look at the signs of a functioning alcoholic. If you see these signs in either yourself or a loved one, please contact us today and begin your recovery journey.

What is a functioning alcoholic?

A functioning alcoholic is an individual who would be diagnosed as being alcohol dependent, but who are still functional in their every day life. They usually maintain their jobs, homes and families, rarely missing work or commitments as a result of drinking and appearing perfectly normal to most people, except for their close loved ones.

Abusing alcohol can result in an array of social, physical and even psychological issues for any individual, but in particular for functioning alcoholics. With alcohol, it’s not always easy to realise when drinking has become a problem and a line has been crossed, unlike the majority of other drugs when it can be far more obvious. There is also a misperception out there of what an alcoholic looks like and act like. A functioning alcoholic is able to disguise their alcoholism and look as if they have no issue or addiction. It’s often only their close loved ones or indeed themselves that identify when drinking has become a problem. They may realise they are spending a substantial amount of time drinking alcohol or even though drinking alcohol may make them feel unhappy, depressed or anxious, they continue to consume.

Possible Causes

There’s no definite answer to what causes an individual to become a functioning alcoholic or develop an issue with alcohol, however, there are a few factors that can increase the risk of developing an alcohol problem. These include:

  • When a parent or close relative has an alcohol problem
  • When an individual is suffering from high levels of stress
  • When an individual has low self-esteem
  • When an individual is exposed to peer pressure to consume alcohol
  • When an individual has a mental health problem. This would include anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and more.
  • Consuming more than 5 alcoholic drinks per day
  • Consuming a high amount of alcohol on a weekly basis. For a female this would be having at least 12 drinks per week or 15 drinks per week for a male.  

What are the signs of a Functioning Alcoholic?

Similar to the causes, there is no dead set signs that indicate a person is a functioning alcoholic, it varies from person to person. But below are a few common signs regularly linked with an individual being a functioning alcoholic.

Consuming Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism

When an individual consumes alcohol to cope with issues which they are going through is a clear sign of problem drinking. If you turn to consuming alcohol when you are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious or having issues in your personal life, all in order to feel better, it often leads to drinking get out of hand. Fundamentally, alcohol is a depressant drug. Using it to deal with emotions like this can make things far worse. Even having one or two drinks at a time every time you are down as a coping mechanism is an instant warning.

Drinking Alcohol at Every Situation

Even drinking moderately or socially can lead to alcohol problems if you give in to the feeling of craving a drink for almost every situation. There is a difference between consuming a drink at the end of the working week to relax and unwind, against drinking alcohol as a necessity in situations in order to calm down, perk up, go to sleep or wake up. Having an alcohol problem or being a functioning alcoholic isn’t always about consuming too much alcohol every single day. It can also be consistently consuming even a moderate amount of alcohol on a daily basis.

Drinking Alcohol by Yourself Consistently

One of the clearest signs of an alcohol problem is consistently drinking on your own, sometimes even in secret. A lot of people enjoy drinking in social situations with friends and loved ones, but drinking alone is a major sign of a functioning alcoholic. It’s far more difficult to limit the amount of alcohol consumed when drinking alone.

Drinking Too Much Alcohol Too Often

As previously mentioned, being a functional alcoholic doesn’t always lead to issue at work or even at home. However, drinking too much on a regular basis either daily or weekly, you are considered to be at risk for alcoholism and may in fact be in the functioning alcoholic category.

Drinking more and more Alcohol

Irrespective of being able to disguise your consumption of alcohol, consistent drinking will increase your tolerance for the amount of alcohol you can consume. As time progresses, it means you will need to consume more and more alcohol to reach the same level of intoxication, especially if you have difficulties stopping drinking once you have begun. If you need to finish the bottle of wine, or finish all the bottles of beer, it doesn’t just build your tolerance for alcohol, but is also a sign of a functioning alcoholic.

Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms from Alcohol

Often, a functioning alcoholic will begin to lose control after going too long without a drink. This can look like anything from depression, anxiety, irritability to even feeling nauseous or extremely tired for long periods. If you do experience symptoms similar to these if you go without a drink for a length of time or around the time you would ordinarily begin drinking, it can be a sign of being a functioning alcoholic.

Tabor Group

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these signs and concerned you may have an alcohol problem or indeed be a functioning alcoholic please contact us today. We can help you recover in a healthy, friendly environment and beat your addiction. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today for information at +353 (21) 488 7710 or email us at info@taborgroup.ie. We can help you.